An interesting case study:
linkAges: An opportunity to connect in a one-on-one basis through the use of technology and bartering skills.
Dr. Paul Tang of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation started a program called linkAges, a cross-generational service exchange inspired by the idea that everyone has something to offer. The program works by allowing members to post online something they want help with: guitar lessons, a Scrabble partner, a ride to the doctor’s office. Others can then volunteer their time and skills to fill these needs and “bank” hours for when they need something themselves.
“In America, you almost need an excuse for knocking on a neighbor’s door,” says Dr. Tang. “We want to break down those barriers.”
How it works
- A college student might see a post from an older man who needs help gardening. She helps him plant a row of flowers and “banks” two hours in the process.
- A few months later, when she wants to cook a Malaysian meal for her boyfriend, a retired chef comes by to give her cooking lessons.
“You don’t need a playmate every day,” Dr. Tang said. “But knowing you’re valued and a contributing member of society is incredibly reaffirming.”
The program is not currently available in the Modesto area but it is something that could be pursued by community leaders.